The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently posted an article highlighting the work of suicide prevention hotline volunteers, particularly those who may work at one of the 166 crisis centers (a great number of which use iCarol Helpline Software) that make up the Lifeline network.
Check out this interview NAMI did with some former Lifeline volunteers about their experiences.
We’re now in the midst of National Suicide Prevention Week and tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day. We’ve seen tons of great graphics, articles, tips, fact sheets, infographics, and more being shared on the websites and social media feeds of all the top suicide prevention industry organizations.
But we know that it’s you guys at the crisis and suicide prevention hotlines that are often on the front lines providing direct services like listening, safety planning, intervening, and spreading messages of hope to the people chatting, texting, or calling you. Your openness to talking about topics that make most people uncomfortable deeply impacts your clients in a positive way. And we know you’re also participating with your own awareness plans this month. So we’d love to draw some attention to your work and any local or national exposure you may be getting.
Has anyone on your staff been interviewed by the media and provided quotes for news articles? Has your helpline been profiled or highlighted by a newspaper or online media? Are you holding a fundraiser?
We’d really like to share links to articles, photos, etc. to promote the ways your helpline has participated in suicide prevention and awareness activities this month. Please leave a comment below, or , and we’ll share your stories throughout the rest of this month.
Reports of gun violence often dominate media coverage in the US, and unfortunately in the United States far more people die by gun violence than any other developed nation in the world. A fact often not mentioned when talking about gun violence though, is that in the US deaths by suicide using a gun are about double the number of deaths by homicide using a gun. These and other statistics are available via GunPolicy.org, a website supported by the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation.
In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has put out a number of infographics for distribution on social media and websites to promote gun safety as it pertains to suicide prevention. You can view them all, download them, and then share them on your site or social media feed by visiting this page.
Suicide Prevention Week will be here soon, recognized from September 7th – 13th with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. There are lots of ways that crisis centers or the general public can recognize this upcoming event.
Join an Out of the Darkness Walk near you. These walks help raise awareness as well as money for research and education. During the month of September, particularly during suicide prevention Week, dozens of these walks will be held. Find one near you and register today.
Donate to a suicide prevention service in your area. You can donate to organizations that focus on research or education, though we humbly suggest you consider donating to a helpline that provides direct help and suicide prevention to those in need. Whether you’re in Canada, the US, or another country, there are suicide prevention lines near you that would greatly appreciate your donation and will put it to excellent use in directly preventing suicide in your community.
Volunteer for a suicide prevention service. These services are always looking for qualified volunteers to answer phones, help with fundraising efforts, and more. Suicide prevention month is a great time to start the application process. Suicide prevention centers could also run volunteer recruitment campaigns to coincide with the heightened awareness and attention.
Fundraise for your local suicide prevention helpline. Much like volunteer recruitment, the increased attention and awareness of suicide prevention will mean that many people will be compelled to do something to help the cause, and so your message and request for support will resonate with your community.
Educate yourself on the topic of suicide. Did you know that suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in Canada and 10th in the United States, or that the elderly are at the highest risk of suicide? By learning the notable statistics, risk factors, warning signs, and myths and facts about suicide, you’ll be empowered to do more and share that knowledge with others.
Receive training on how to help others who are suicidal. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and everyone’s responsibility. We’re all capable of doing something to prevent it. Trainings like ASIST, safeTALK, QPR, and Mental Health First Aid, and training from the Suicide Prevention Resource Centerare some examples.
Spread the word with social media. Whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or all of the above, post information in support of suicide awareness and prevention. Try sharing some of those facts you learned, or share a personal story about how suicide has touched your life, or the life of someone you care about. Discussing suicide goes a long way in reducing stigma and bringing the issue out into the open where it belongs! If you run a helpline, you can ramp up your social media presence as well by sharing facts about your helpline, success stories, requests for support, suicide myths vs. facts, etc.
Alert the media and use your expertise or experience as a helpline agency to do a story on suicide prevention in your community and how people can be helped by contacting you. Agencies that have texting and live chat services always have a great angle for contacting the media to do a story on how those struggling with suicidal thoughts can use those services if they don’t want to call on the phone.
Whether you take one of these actions, or do something different, it’s important to recognize suicide prevention week. Your actions will show others that you care about raising awareness of suicide, and preventing it.
One year ago today the world lost a beloved actor, comedian, and humanitarian to suicide. For many people this was the first time suicide touched their life, and for others it was a reminder of painful losses or struggles they personally experienced in their own lives. Universally Robin Williams’ death ignited a conversation about suicide, recovery from substance abuse, depression, and other mental illnesses. Many helplines reported increased call volume for weeks and months following his death.
The American Association of Suicidology released a statement that includes some helpful information. We encourage you to take a look by visiting their Facebook post about this anniversary.
An article featured on CNN’s website as part of their “Project Happy” series is putting the focus on Crisis Workers, their happiness with their jobs and lives, what inspires them, and how they practice self-care.
The article features quotes from staff from helplines across the US, including many of our clients, giving their input about what keeps them happy.
Check out the full article on CNN’s website.
When your volunteers are working with a help-seeker either on the phone, in-person, or online, there may come a time where assessing that person’s risk for suicide becomes necessary. Several years ago the Lifeline developed suicide risk assessment standards based on industry research. We then took these standards into consideration and developed a tool for use in iCarol that guides your volunteers and staff through that assessment process. Like other forms in iCarol, this guide can be customized to your needs.
The assessment begins with three basic and direct questions that gauge whether the person is thinking of suicide today, if they’ve thought about suicide very recently, and whether they have ever attempted to kill themselves.
Instructions guide the worker to proceed if any of the questions receive a ‘Yes’ answer. A fourth question asking about suicide in progress can help determine imminent risk, and our ‘Help tip’ reveals important questions to help quickly clarify this risk and begin rescue if that is part of your helpline’s policies.
Four areas influencing risk are explored: Desire, Capability, Intent, and Buffers and Connectedness. Each section contains a number of topics, each with a ‘Help tip’ providing suggestions on the types of questions or statements that could be worked into the conversation. This can help your staff build rapport with the client and allows the interaction to continue naturally, rather than feeling like a questionnaire.
As they talk with the client, they can select any of three options for each area which best captures where the client is for that particular topic. As these options are selected, our tool weights these answers and provides a measurement that helps gauge the overall level of risk.
Next, your worker can discuss and record the client’s reasons for living and reasons for dying. This can be a compelling tool for discussion and an important piece of the conversation. When someone is at risk for suicide, finding and focusing on reasons for living as compared to their reasons for dying can be a powerful exercise.
Finally, your worker can record the level of risk as determined through their discussion with the client or from the measurement tool. A series of instructions can help guide them towards resolution, referral, and other outcomes.
Again, because our forms are customizable to your own practices, this guide can be used exactly as delivered or you can make your own adjustments and edits if needed.
Providing a safe place for open, honest discussion about suicide, free of judgment, is the cornerstone of any crisis service. This powerful risk assessment tool will help your volunteers and staff feel supported, equipped, and confident when working with callers at risk for suicide, all while helping your center conform with industry standards.
Want to know more about our Suicide Risk Assessment tools, or want to enable them in your system? Please , or existing users can open a support case.
We understand how important the follow-up process is at your helpline. There are many different reasons to follow-up with a help seeker after your initial conversation has ended. Safety planning and ongoing contact with support systems are extremely important for people who are having thoughts of suicide. Or perhaps you’d like to see if the referrals a caller was given were able to help them. Many centers also use a follow-up call as an opportunity to conduct a satisfaction or quality assurance survey.
Whatever reason you are following up with a client, our follow-up activity within a call report form makes it easy to schedule these follow-ups. You can collect the important information you’ll need to conduct the follow-up call, not just the person’s name and phone number but important information to preserve confidentiality, like knowing whether or not it’s okay to leave a voicemail, or to say where you’re calling from if a third party answers the phone. Your volunteers can even sign up for an email notification to tell them a follow-up call has been scheduled and assigned to them. There’s also a handy “inbox” on the main calls page where they can quickly navigate to the list of follow-ups that are scheduled.
With our next release we’ll be launching improvements to the pages that list Follow-ups and Surveys due. Those pages, as always, are accessed from the Calls menu. Here are highlights of the changes, which you’ll see soon:
- New arrows on the top bar let you change the sort order of each column: call report form number, due date, client name, phone worker, assigned to, and subject.
- To make the date column sortable, that’s now in YYYY/MM/DD format.
- A new search box lets you more quickly find the call reports you need by typing in a search term.
- You can still reassign followups, but it looks a little different — the pulldown is gone. Instead, please just click on the “assigned to” name, and then you’ll see the list of names from which you can choose.
We hope this enhancement helps save time in your daily work; making it so you can quickly and efficiently find the information you need when conducting follow-up interactions.
The HBO Documentary “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” first aired on HBO over a year ago, and at the Academy Award Nominations on Thursday morning, they announced that the film was among the nominees for Best Short Subject Documentary! Congrats to the filmmakers for being nominated for Hollywood’s most prestigious award.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, the film is definitely worth checking out. It’s an intimate look at suicide prevention hotline work. The documentary highlights the work of the call center in Canadaigua, NY that answers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone line operated specifically for veterans at risk of suicide. The documentary features harrowing footage of crisis responders working to find anonymous callers in imminent danger, and the quiet and touching moments between the empathetic workers who listen without judgment and the veterans reaching out for help. It’s available for purchase and rent, or HBO subscribers can watch via HBO GO.
This is a truly well-made film that shines a light on the hard work of suicide prevention lines, and the struggles faced by members of the military. I know I’ll be cheering it on when I’m watching the Oscars this February.